birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


It’s a strange time/space continuum warp when you find out that you are slightly estranged from your Mom.  

Illness and infirmity can bring out the best or the worst in a person. And age, and relationship status, openness and secrets can rise or settle either pure love or obligation.  

What you may ask does this have to do with an essay on Grandma? As I, at the ripe old age of sixty one have finally and fully escaped the cloud of judgment that hung over my relationship with my Mom for all my conscious decades. It’s not her fault, at all. It’s mine. I am long, and way overdue for emerging from my chrysalis.  

This apple fell far from its family tree. I just did. I’m the last to arrive and, sort of the first to leave. I have little in common with my family or origin. We share a love of culture and reading, of travel and noshing, but it might end there. I’ve escaped the yoke of what I’ve come to think (not so fondly I might add) as intellectual Olympics in the daily and weekly and yearly exchange of words.  

I remember when I saw the first therapist who ever made sense, when he asked me how I felt about “that”, I literally had no vocabulary for it. The only real emotions I was conversant with were happy, loved, stupid, embarrassed, and an extra dumb for good measure. I came to add humiliated, ashamed, guilty, confused, angry, and the like. But my parents couldn’t teach me what they didn’t know. We were an intellectual family. The emotional Jones lives around the corner. I liked to hang out there.  

But as a rising adult, a new parent, and a career woman and wife, my parents integrated into my life on the common magic carpet which were my children. I never saw my Dad more silly and inventive. My Mom had shoulders for tuckered out toddlers for hours on end. In this context, we weren’t constantly evaluating Tolstoy for his historical relevance to the whatever the heck and all that. We were playing Simon Says.  

When my oldest daughter was 3, I took a road trip around New Zealand with both of my parents. My husband (now ex) was too busy to go. The trip was the highlight of my life with them. My Dad and I rode in the front of the rental car that I drove exclusively after he lost us a hubcap or two by the wrong side of the road driving. (They’ll tell you it’s the right side, and they would technically be correct.) 

In all these ways, I am truly more akin to my Grandma.  

To be continued,,,,,,,

Olive Oil